Left Brexit

Carl Parkman argues that for too long the right have had Euroscepticism covered, but why exactly should left-wingers be campaigning and advocating for a Brexit?

For me there are three main reasons:

1. The European Union is run on secretive decision-making

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, has revealed how backdoor privatisation deals can be made through totally above-board bilateral trade agreements between the EU and the US.

The deal – which signed up member states can only accept or reject, not amend – opens up public services to competition from US firms.

In areas where there is existing privatisation, such as our National Health Service, US firms can bid for commissions.

It’s ridiculous that this is an option anyway. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about opening our NHS to private firms it that it’s rarely value for money. Look at how PFI is haemorrhaging money.

What’s more offensive is that it’s happening without our say so. Decisions cooked up by Brussels bureaucrats without the validation of the British electorate.

2. The European Union means neo-liberalism is here to stay

I recently spoke with some Greek Trades Union representatives who told me the best they can hope for is a social EU that tones down the neo-liberal agenda.

This lack of hope is tragic.

In any case it is also fantasy. The Troika has effectively won their battle with Syriza in Greece since Tsipras has backed down.

The upshot is for the country is more austerity with privatisation measures.

The likelihood that the European Union is about to go softer on neo-liberal austerity measures is highly unlikely.

Angela Merkel, on the Conservative right, is only getting stronger. Germany’s influence over the direction of the European Union is set to stay.

Meanwhile François Hollande of the Socialist Party, who some had hoped would be a positive influence in the talks with Greece, has only got weaker.

Side-lined by Merkel, he also doesn’t stand a chance at the next French presidential elections in 2017.

But even if the influence of social-democracy within the EU was on the cards, should we not take a stand against its lack of democracy out of principle?

After all what is socialism if not the large-scale committee of working people?

Instead in 2010 there was the creation of the European Semester System which meant each member state had their national budgets approved by the European Commission.

Why? To make sure it sat correctly within the neo-liberal agenda.

In the same year the European Financial Stability Facility was created which set in law the austerity conditions for bailout loans for struggling nations.

The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (or the Fiscal Stability Treaty), effectively enshrines into law balanced budgets and near-zero structural deficits, which in turn outlaws expansionary fiscal policy.

This accords with the EU Fiscal Compact which is a legal requirement on eurozone states to slash their public debt (by 1.5 per cent of GDP in France, two per cent in Spain and 3.5 per cent in Italy and Portugal) every year for the next two decades.

Who is deciding this, because it is not us. The agenda is set and controlled by unelected ‘austerians’ sat in the Troika.

3. The European Union is inherently disinterested with European harmony

Contrary to the supposed original principles of a union of European nations, the EU today has pitted richer countries against poorer countries.

Countries in the EU are either creditors, such as Germany and France, or debtors, like Iceland and Greece.

Loans made to Greece, underwritten by European creditors to the previous Pasok government, were unsustainable.

The conditions for these loans – imposed austerity measures – made things even worse and the economy by 25 per cent from 2007-2014.

The Greeks went to the poles in January this year to say no to austerity.

What they now have instead is a government writing up plans to capitulate and bring about more austerity, pension cuts, wage freezes, higher VAT on food, and privatisation.

That’s not democracy. That’s the will of the unelected European Commission, the European Council, and the Council of Ministers.

And it’s why the left needs to find its feet on the issue.

The rightwinger Charles Moore wrote recently:

“the mainstream left decided that Europeanism was an essential badge of respectability, and gave up thinking about the matter from that day to this … Its unquestioned assumption is that the EU is the only modern engine which can guarantee the combination of prosperity and expensive social programmes.”

Hopefully those days are over. But until then left-wingers are duty-bound to make the case for why Britain must exit the neo-liberal empire of the European Union.